A genealogical novel, Deserter, is a gritty, realistic portrayal of one man’s life. Preston Martin entered the world one humid August afternoon in 1853. Listening to his robust cries, the midwife told his mother, Freelove, he would grow up to be a preacher. His father, Joseph, took a more pessimistic view. Noticing the left corner of his son’s mouth slanted, Joseph concluded Preston had a liar’s mouth.
Preston lives his life somewhere between his parents’ two pronouncements. He has every intention and desire to follow his mother’s wishes, but life in 19th century America keeps drawing him astray.
When war brings tragedy to this central New York family, Preston finds himself supporting his mother through a combination of lay preaching and opportunistic theft. A recommendation that he join the army turns sour when Preston chooses to desert, leaving him a hunted man for almost a decade.
Inspired by the life story of author K. A. Potter-Hughes’ paternal great-grandfather, Deserter paints an evocative and sometimes grim picture of love, loss, and morality in the years surrounding the Civil War. Preston’s acts may not be those of a godly man, but he never stops struggling to become one. In the long run, perhaps that’s enough for redemption.
K. A. Potter-Hughes’ simple desire to discover her paternal grandmother’s birth parents took her on a journey through time leading her to become an amateur genealogist. With clues to her grandmother’s childhood secret gleaned from the memories of her father and his sister, the author began searching census records. Six years of research which seemed only to lead to brick walls and dead ends came to an end when the author stumbled upon a newspaper article from July 1891 in which her paternal great-grandfather recounted his adventures as an army deserter.
Subsequently, the author uncovered additional news accounts of his court appearances. Combining these sources with the census data she had collected gave her rich insight into her great-grandfather’s day-to-day life across seven decades. Now she had the answers to a family secret her grandmother had taken to the grave.
Deserter was released on July 5, and is available on Amazon.